Theses and Dissertations Frequently Asked Questions

Defenses Frequently Asked Questions


How do I schedule a defense?

To schedule your defense:

  • Consult with your advisor to determine if you are ready to defend.
  • Schedule a time to conduct the defense with your advisor and committee.
  • Book a room at the appropriate time, and reserve any necessary technology.
  • Submit the Pre-defense form to the Graduate School at least two weeks before your defense date.
  • Submit the complete defense draft of your dissertation, thesis, or report to the Graduate School and your committee at least two weeks before your defense date.


What is the deadline to defend this semester?

Students must defend no later than Tuesday of week 12 of the semester in order to be eligible to graduate in that semester.  Defenses can be scheduled after this date, but students will complete their degree in a future semester.  Current deadlines are available online.


I need to graduate this semester. What is the last day I can defend?

The semester weeks in the table below are the deadlines to complete the listed milestones in order to complete your degree in a given semester. Specific deadlines are available for upcoming semesters. Students who do not meet any of these deadlines will not be eligible to graduate in the current semester and will need to pay regular tuition and maintain continuous enrollment until they complete their degree.

For more information:

Milestone Deadline to complete degree in a given semester

Last day to schedule a final oral examination

Last day to hold a final oral examination

  • Your committee will recommend technical and formatting changes to your document.  Your ability to meet the next milestone will depend on what your committee requires.

Last day to submit advisor and committee approved dissertation, thesis, or report and associated paperwork to the Graduate School

  • Instructions for a dissertationthesis, or report option
  • Students who meet this deadline will be eligible to opt out of paying tuition in the following semester and be charged the resubmission fee to complete their degree if required formatting corrections cannot be made by Friday of finals week.
    • Please allow up to two weeks for review of documents.  You will receive a review no later than 4pm on the Monday of Finals week.
  • Students who do not meet this deadline will not be eligible to graduate this semester and will need to pay regular tuition and maintain continuous enrollment until they complete their degree.

Last day to submit a revision (if required) of a dissertation, thesis, or report and other final paperwork

  • If a revision of  your previous dissertation, thesis, or report is required, submit the fully corrected document that conforms to all requirements specified by the Graduate School in its review
  • Check MyMichiganTech for items due


What do I need to submit before my defense? 

At least two weeks before your defense submit:

  • The Pre-defense form to the Graduate School as a hard copy with signatures.
  • A complete defense draft of your dissertation, thesis, or report needs to be submitted to both:


Why are you requiring a draft of my thesis or dissertation when I schedule my oral defense?

The Graduate School will review your document to ensure that it meets the required submission guidelines, provide a copyright review of your document, and provide helpful suggestions for formatting. Reviewing your document prior to your oral defense will ensure that you have all of the corrections necessary to complete this degree requirement in a timely fashion after your oral defense. If you do not complete the required changes, your final document will not be approved, and there will be delays for your graduation.

Theses and Dissertations Frequently Asked Questions


The forms don't work. What should I do?

All Graduate School forms may be completed in newer versions of Adobe Acrobat or Adobe Reader (v9 or higher).  If you are experiencing problems try:

  1. Switching to a different browser. Currently, Internet Explorer is recommended.
    • There are known incompatibility issues with Firefox v19, Chrome, Preview (the PDF reader on a macintosh) and Linux machines.
    • Students who click on a form link and receive the message, "Please wait.... If this message is not eventually replaced by the proper contents of your document..." have an incompatible browser or plug-in.
  2. Saving the file to your hard drive and open with the newest version of Acrobat Reader rather than clicking on the link and opening in your browser.
    1. Right-click or option-click the hyperlink
    2. Save the form on your hard drive.
    3. Open the file directly from Adobe Acrobat or Adobe Reader.
  3. Reconfiguring your browser to open PDF files using a compatible plug-in. Firefox users may reconfigure their browsers using the instructions below:
    1. Select Tools...Options from the menu bar
    2. Select the "Applications" tab in the pop up window
    3. Search for and select "Portable Document Format (PDF)" in the Content Type list
    4. Select "Use Adobe Acrobat (in Firefox)" as the Action
    5. Press "OK"

TDR-Review is provided as a sample for your information and does not allow data entry, since the Graduate School completes and returns this form for you.


What is plagiarism?

Plagiarism is when you use somebody else's words or ideas but do not give them credit. When you use any text from a document written by somebody else, you must provide a full citation for the material and write the text in your own words. This is called paraphrasing. Other acceptable methods include placing the copied material in quotations or a block quote.

A block quote is an indented section of text. It is used to indicate that a larger section of text has been copied from another source. Both quotations and block quotes require citations to indicate the source of the material. A block quote is generally appropriate when more than 100 words or eight lines of text have been used from the source material.


What is self-plagiarism?

Technically, you cannot plagiarize yourself. Plagiarism is defined as using the words of somebody else and representing them as your own. It is inappropriate, however, to simply copy and paste the methods section of a journal article and submit it to another journal. These materials have been published by another journal, and the copyright transfer agreement you or your advisor signed with them may prevent you from reusing the words in another paper.


If I have a citation for a statement in my document, is that enough?

No, it is not. A citation merely indicates the source of the material. Without quotations or a block quote, you are telling the reader that you wrote the words. If you did not paraphrase the material you cited, this is plagiarism. See "What is plagiarism?" for more information.


What is paraphrasing and how do I do it correctly?

Paraphrasing involves re-writing a sentence from someone else using your own words and way of expressing yourself. Paraphrasing includes changing the order of presenting information in addition to the words used.

English for Writing Research Papers is available electronically (see External Links) to Michigan Tech students, and Chapter 10 has many good examples of paraphrasing vs plagiarism, including some from Dr. Gratz (MTU professor Emeritus, Biology).


What are embedded fonts and why do I need them?

Embedded fonts are included in the PDF file. This allows everyone to read your document even if they don't have a copy of the font that you used in your document.


How do I embed fonts in my thesis or dissertation?

This depends on what software you are using. It is an option in your PDF converter before you create your PDF file. Once your PDF file is created, there is no way to embed the fonts in your document in Adobe Acrobat prior to version 9. If you are using Adobe Acrobat to convert your document to a PDF file, search the help for "embedding fonts" to find instructions for your version of Acrobat.

The Graduate School has instructions on how to check if your fonts are embedded and how to embed fonts using MS Word. ProQuest provides resources on preparing manuscripts for submission, which includes information on embedding fonts.


How do I check if my fonts are embedded?

For a visual explanation of this process, check out our blog.

Open the pdf of your thesis or dissertation in Adobe Acrobat or Adobe Reader. Go to File...Properties and select the "Fonts" tab. Next to every listed font, the text (Embedded) or (Embedded Subset) will appear if the font is embedded. For ProQuest/UMI, all fonts except "Times", "Arial/Helvetica" and "Courier" must generally be embedded.


I'd like to put a map in my thesis, or a document that is larger than 8.5 x 11. How do I do that?

If the map is larger than 8.5 x 11, but smaller than 11 x 17, see Section 3.9 in the guide.


I'd like to include supplemental files with my thesis. How do I do that?

Supplemental files may be uploaded with your document submission to ProQuest and/or Digital Commons.


I'd like to use material created by others in my thesis or dissertation. How do I do that?

Please see our Copyrighted Materials page and section 5.3 of the guide for assistance.


Why isn't my thesis or dissertation available electronically on the library's web page after I've submitted it?

Dissertations, theses, and reports are submitted to the Library after degrees have been awarded. If there is an embargo (see section 6.2 of the guide), that will further delay availability of your electronic document.


Why should I publish with ProQuest?

ProQuest has been publishing scholarly work for nearly 80 years. Its primary purpose is to archive graduate research and provide greater accessibility to it. Every work published with ProQuest is accessible through the ProQuest Dissertations and Theses database, which is a primary source for scholars to find graduate research. In addition, their archival services provide an off-site source for your work in the event that your work is lost from the J. R. Van Pelt Library. Publication with ProQuest is required for PhD dissertations and Master's theses.


I'm writing a report. How do guidelines for theses and dissertations affect me?

The Guide clearly describes which formatting requirements apply to reports.

To view the Guide in a checklist form, see TDR-Review.


I'm having difficultly formatting my document. Can you help me?

The Graduate School has many resources to assist you:

  1. Word and LaTeX templates are available on the Formatting and Preparing page for Theses and Dissertations | Reports.
  2. Formatting 101 presentations show you how use the Word template, fix your document using Adobe Acrobat and more.  See our  Graduate School Seminars page for upcoming seminars and archived materials.
  3. The Graduate School is also writing tips and tricks on our blog in a tutorial "how-to" format. If you have a suggestion for a topic, please e-mail the Graduate School.
  4. Attend our formatting workshops to work on a computer with a trained student. Upcoming events are shown on our  Graduate School Seminars page.
  5. Email the Graduate School your questions!


I want to use LaTeX to format my document. Can you help me?

The Graduate School staff do not have experience using LaTeX. Since LaTeX is an open source program and has a wide community of users, we encourage users to seek assistance through other users. An alumnus of Michigan Tech, S. Gowtham, has created a web site and LaTeX templates that he has made available to the world. His resources can be found here:

      • S. Gowtham's website—includes LaTeX template and instructions

      • Web-based utility to generate LaTeX expressions in graphical format
      • LaTeX templates—This following resources can assist students using LaTeX.
Tutorial GitHub Repository Direct Link (.zip)
MS/PhD Template GitHub Repository Direct Link (.zip)
Presentation Template GitHub Repository Direct Link (.zip)

See also our Graduate School seminars for more information.

The availability of these templates does not indicate Graduate School approval of them. If you do choose to use LaTeX, please understand how the language works. The Graduate School may request changes in the future that are not covered by these templates, or you may want to make your own stylistic choices. Do not use these templates as a substitute for learning the basics of LaTeX yourself. Please refer to the guide for the most up-to-date information on required formatting for dissertations, theses, and reports.

The LaTeX template can also be used and found on Overleaf. Sign up using your MTU email account for access to Pro features.


Should I double space or single space my document?

See Section 3.6 of the guide for details on all formatting requirements.


Is there a template for a dissertation, thesis, or report?

Yes.  Word and LaTeX templates are available on the Formatting and Preparing page for Theses and Dissertations | Reports.


I need help editing my thesis. Can you help me?

The Multiliteracies Center offers support for writing, and is best utilized if plan to use them throughout your writing process.

Editors are available online to help you proofread documents. Like any service online, look for a reputable source with references.


I just got a letter from a publisher who wants to publish my thesis or dissertation as a book. What should I do?

Before accepting any publishing offer, students should carefully read the copyright transfer agreement or publishing contract. An agreement like this is required before your work is published in any form, because a publisher cannot reprint your words without your permission. In the Graduate School, for example, students sign a publishing with Digital Commons for the University.  This agreement grants Michigan Tech a non-exclusive license to archive their work and allows the library to make limited photocopies under certain circumstances. Students retain all other ownership rights, except those that relate to proprietary information. The ownership of proprietary information is covered under the MTU Operating Procedures Manual in Section 11.1.

The Graduate School cannot provide legal advice about contracts, but some general guidance is that students should be focusing on peer reviewed, high quality journal publications at this stage in their career. If parts of the thesis or dissertation have already been published in journals, a book publisher may not be able to reprint the work. If the thesis or dissertation is published as a book, the student may not be able to publish parts of their thesis or dissertation in a journal at a later date.

Specifically, VDM Verlag contacts many students about publishing their thesis or dissertation as a book. From the information the Graduate School can find, VDM Verlag is a legitimate publisher. This e-mail does not appear to be a scam. The book is not peer reviewed, however, so it will not significantly enhance the student's publication record.

A Google search yielded a few sources specifically about VDM Verlag and student's experience publishing. Inclusion of these pages does not endorse any of these opinions. Students are encouraged to investigate the publisher and their publishing options independently.


How can I order bound copies of my dissertation, thesis, or report?

Students who would like to purchase a bound copy of their document may utilize the services offered by:

  • ProQuest (can be ordered at time of submission; dissertations and theses only)
  • Thesis on Demand (online)
  • Book Concern Printers (Hancock)
    • soft cover, saddle stitch and spiral bound in-house, can send out for hard bound covers
  • The Print Shop (Houghton)
    • perfect and coil binding
  • Any binding service of your choice


I'm not on campus. How can I access campus computing?

Enrolled graduate students have access to some software downloads and may access campus computers while off campus through a virtual private network (VPN).

You maintain access to campus computing and software downloads while enrolled, and for two weeks after the end of a semester. There may be periods between semesters where access is restricted. For questions regarding these services, please contact IT User Services(906-487-1111 |

Installing a trial version of Adobe Acrobat may also be a solution to allow you to make final edits on a document or complete to forms to complete your degree requirements.

Copyright Frequently Asked Questions


I want to use a figure from another thesis or dissertation from my group. Do I need to ask permission?

Usually. The student who wrote the thesis or dissertation owns the copyright and must be asked for permission. Figures are generally considered works in and of themselves and do not usually constitute a small portion of the work. See "How to Use Copyrighted Materials" for more information. 

If, however, the figure is a simple representation of data, you may not need permission.  Data cannot be copyrighted, so non-creative ways of representing the data are generally considered fair use.


My advisor wrote a journal article and says it's ok for me to use a figure from it in my thesis or dissertation. I am not a co-author on the publication. Do I need to ask permission? 

Usually. Your advisor cannot grant you permission to use material since the publisher now owns the copyright. See "How to Use Copyrighted Materials" for more information.

If, however, the figure is a simple representation of data, you may not need permission.  Data cannot be copyrighted, so non-creative ways of representing the data are generally considered fair use.


I want to use a figure from a journal article or book chapter that I wrote in my thesis or dissertation. Do I need to ask permission?

Usually. Unless you have retained the rights to the article, the publisher now owns the copyright and only the publisher can grant permission. See "How to Use Copyrighted Materials" for more information.

If, however, the figure is a simple representation of data, you may not need permission.  Data cannot be copyrighted, so non-creative ways of representing the data are generally considered fair use.


I want to publish a journal article and use this as a chapter in my thesis or dissertation. Do I need to ask permission?

Usually. When you sign the copyright transfer agreement, you transfer the copyright to the publisher. Some publishers allow you to retain certain rights, which might include reprinting the article in a thesis. Either way, you should document that you have permission to use the article or have retained the right to publish the article. See "How to Use Copyrighted Materials" for more information.


My figure is from the internet. Do I need to ask permission?

Usually. All web pages are copyrighted, and most have a legal notices page that details their policies and procedures. Material on the web - although easy to get - is still copyrighted in the same way as a book or journal article. See "How to Use Copyrighted Materials" for more information.


I want to use a figure from my thesis in my dissertation. Do I need to ask permission?

It depends. If you published any of the material in a journal or book, you will need to abide by the copyright transfer agreement you signed with the publisher. If the material has not been published elsewhere, you retain the copyright to your thesis, and do not have to ask permission.


The publisher won't respond to my letters, e-mails or phone calls. What do I do?

Most publishers respond quickly to requests for permission. Publishers, however, are under no obligation to respond. If they don't respond, your best course of action is to remove the material from your thesis or dissertation.


I have a photograph I want to use in my thesis or dissertation that a friend gave me. It has never been published. Do I need to ask permission?

Yes. The photographer owns the copyright to the image, assuming that it is an original composition. It does not matter if the material has been published or not. You should give credit to the photographer in the caption of the figure and obtain a permission letter.


I want to use a photograph I took. Do I need to ask permission?

It depends.  If you took a photograph of your own original composition, then you own the copyright to that photograph, and permission is not needed.  If, however, you take a photograph of someone else's work, it is similar to making a photocopy, and you will need to document that you can reuse that material in your work.

For example, if I take a photograph of the Mona Lisa (a very famous painting!), I probably don't have the ability to reprint that photograph.  If, however, my photograph is of the Mona Lisa with people looking at the painting, and the composition of that photo is unique and creative, then I can likely argue that the photograph is something I can use in my work.


I modified a figure from a journal article. Do I need to ask for permission?

It depends. Significant modifications result in a figure that is uniquely yours. The source of the inspiration or base of the figure must be acknowledged in your caption. To clarify the source and figure creator, we recommend a credit line in your caption similar to, "Figure adapted by author from SOURCE." where SOURCE would be replaced with an appropriate citation. If the figure is just a tracing of the original figure, or does not contain a significant amount of creativity, you have not created it, and must ask for permission.


I created a figure from a set of data gathered by somebody else. Do I need to ask for permission to include this material in my thesis or dissertation?

No. Data cannot be copyrighted, so you are free to use data to create any figure you like. The source of the data must be properly acknowledged, however, and a plain citation can cause the reader to believe that the figure (and not just the data) was taken from the source. To clarify confusion and properly identify the source and figure creator, we recommend a credit line in your caption similar to, "Figure created by author from data in SOURCE." where SOURCE would be replaced with an appropriate citation.


The copyrighted material is going into an academic book. I think this is fair use of the material. Do I really need to ask for permission?

Fair use is complicated, and in reality, the courts determine if your use is fair. Putting copyrighted material in a thesis or dissertation is not the same as photocopying an article, or using a figure from the internet for a paper submitted to a professor for class. Things that are definitely not fair use include long quotations, whole journal articles and most figures from any source. Additional information can be found in the Copyright and Your Dissertation or Thesis publication prepared by ProQuest.


I'd like to use a figure from a journal article or web site in my thesis. How do I do that?

Unless figures are truly in the public domain, US Copyright Law protects images and words from any source from being copied into your thesis or dissertation. The same laws protect you against others copying your work and placing it in their documents without your permission. If you are the author of the journal article, consult the copyright transfer agreement you signed to see what rights you retained as an author. If you are not the author of the material, contact the publisher to obtain permission to use the material. Most publishers have a form that can be filled out on their web page to request permission. Please see our copyright page for more information about how to request and document permission to use materials in your thesis or dissertation.

US Copyright Law does allow limited use of copyrighted material under the "fair use" doctrine. This permits you to use limited portions of copyrighted material in any document you publish. Please see the Copyright Office FAQ to assist you in determining if the work you want to use is considered fair use, or if you need to ask permission. Typically, quotations of less than one page are considered fair use, but reproduction of a figure from a journal or web page is not.